Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

That wasn't too bad. (Meaning, yesterday afternoon's flight from KBDR to KVKX, which I discussed prospectively HERE.)

When I departed Bridgeport the weather at my destination was not good. The METAR at nearby Andrews AFB said:
KADW 251737Z AUTO 13006KT 3SM BR OVC004 13/12 A2994 RMK AO2 SLP141

The 3 mile visibility in mist was all right but the 400 foot ceiling would certainly make the RNAV (GPS) RWY 6 approach at KVKX a non-starter. However, I had about 2-1/2 hours of flying ahead of me and the Terminal Area Forecasts in the region were predicting quite a bit of improvement by 19Z or so.

So I departed with the hope that things would improve and the backup plan of diverting to Manassas. The ILS approach there was solid as an alternate. And, when I next checked the Andrews weather (about 1-1/4 hour later, via the METAR screen from XM Weather on the Garmin GPSmap 396) I was pleased to see this:
KADW 251839Z AUTO 20006KT 10SM OVC008 13/13 A2994 RMK AO2 CIG 004V012 SLP141

The visibility had risen to 10 miles and the prevailing ceiling was up to 800 feet. The "CIG 004V012" (variable ceilings from 400 to 1200 feet) seemed to me to indicate a dynamic situation...the promised trend of improvement looked to be in motion.

By the time I arrived in the local area, conditions had improved quite a lot. There were scattered clouds at about 1500 feet, in sufficient quantity to make a visual approach to the airport difficult so I asked for the RNAV approach and landed without much ado. Here's the flight track for the trip, courtesy of the nice folks at FlightAware.com:

Of course, timing is everything. By the time I had N631S pulled into the hangar, the view out the back door looked like this:

The cooling air over the saturated ground was generating a nice layer of condensation fog. By the time I was driving off of the airport the fog was thick enough to limit visibility to a fraction of a mile. Had I departed one hour later, I'd have been unable to land at KVKX.

The flight also had some lessons for me about icing considerations and about departures in poor weather. I think I'll save them for later posts. For now, I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these, Frank. I always enjoy your updates.

Roy at VKX.

Frank Van Haste said...


I enjoy writing them! Thanks for visiting and reading.

Hope you're having a great holiday weekend.